UPDATE: Rugby Australia said Monday it has officially terminated fullback Israel Folau’s contract with the national team because of anti-gay comments he made on social media for the second year in a row. Officials from the organization and the New South Wales Rugby Union met with Falou on Friday, according to ABC Australia.
He has 48 hours to accept his sacking, or face a code of conduct hearing, according to the BBC.
Rugby Australia said the 30-year-old “had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract”.
Almost exactly a year ago, he got off with a warning but no sanction. But as the Associated Press reported, Rugby Australia wasn’t so lenient this time, even though the Rugby World Cup starts in just five months.
Folau was expected to be one of Australia’s leading players in Japan. Now it appears he’ll be watching the World Cup on television like the rest of us.
In a separate development, the Rugby Football Union in the UK and London-based Saracens Football Club are reportedly investigating soccer player Billy Vunipola and considering disciplinary action for supporting Folau’s social media statement, with one of his own:
“Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no? I’m not perfect I’m at least everything on that list at least at one point in my life. It hurts to know that. But that’s why I believe there’s a God. To guide and protect us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Israel Folau is back at it again, telling gay people that they will go to “hell” and saying that people who support gender-identity inclusion are “blinded” and must “repent.”
Folau’s latest line of attacks came on Instagram and on Twitter, where he has had trouble before. Last year the rugby fullback in Australia was told to cool the anti-LGBTQ social-media posting. He did.
Today, however, he was back at it again.
“Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent,” he wrote on Instagram. “Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”
His Twitter rant attacked the Tasmanian government for making gender optional on birth certificates.
Rugby Australia made it clear they aren’t one bit happy with him, saying in a statement: “The content within the post is unacceptable. It does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the Rugby community.”
Folau has spoken out against the LGBTQ community and homosexuality on many occasions. He proudly voted against same-sex marriage in 2017.
“The effects these hateful comments will have on LGBT people are enormously harmful,” said Ben Owen, head of International Gay Rugby. “We want all LGBT athletes out there to know that rugby is a sport where you are welcome and respected, a sport of values that doesn’t allow for such bigotry or discrimination of any kind.”
Now as the rugby world is increasingly united in efforts to push aside homophobia, Folau risks some serious action being taken against him. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if he’s suspended from play at some level. Aside from being anti-gay, the way he has chosen to express that — telling gay people they are going to “hell” and calling understanding of gender fluidity “evil” — is really ugly.